Chapter 68: Study
“Qin Lie, three ounces of Quicksand Gold, quick!”
“Qin Lie! Three Ground Crystals!”
“Qin Lie! Mystical Cold Jade, two sticks!”
In the Artifact Forging Hall, Yao Tai sweated up a storm as he hurried around the smelting furnace and continuously shouted.
The flame formed by dozens of fire crystals in the smelting furnace blazed a crimson red, and waves of the inferno rose high up into the air, causing the temperature inside the hall to become astoundingly high.
Yao Tai continuously broke apart spirit materials as his eyes locked onto the smelting furnace, keeping track of how long each material had been inside for. He kept watch over the changes in spirit materials inside and put spirit materials into the furnace as he continuously directed Qin Lie to fetch the spirit materials he needed.
In the hall, Qin Lie’s clothing was soaked as he flew from corner to corner and collected the materials Yao Tai specified.
The floor was covered with spirit materials beside the furnace. Many of the materials had been broken up and ground into powder to mix with other spirit materials on the outside.
As the interior of the furnace changed, the materials needed would also change, and the amount of each spirit material needed would need to be readjusted accordingly.
—When using the furnace, every slight change would cause the steps after it to change, and this would directly affect the spirit materials.
The heat of the fire crystals, the surface area of the furnace, how much the spirit materials merged, the conflict between spirit materials, how intense the fire was…
There were too many factors to be considered when an artifact was being smelted, and all of them had to be considered as a minuscule mistake could cause the smelting to fail and render all previous efforts worthless.
Qin Lie continuously moved about and acquired the exact amount of every spirit material that Yao Tai called out. Each time he handed spirit materials over to Yao Tai, they were the exact amount that Yao Tai had requested, not off in the slightest.
—The inscribing of spirit diagrams were even stricter in their requirements of accuracy than smelting artifacts!
If any spirit lines varied in width by even a hair’s breadth, they could cause the entire spirit diagram to crumble and cause the inscription of the rest of the spirit diagram to fail.
Due to this, Qin Lie had practiced his precision to an extreme degree!
Earlier today, by relying on inscribing a Spirit Gathering diagram in his spirit sea, he successfully formed a whirlpool and broke through to the ninth level of the Refinement Realm.
Now that the spirit sea whirlpool had formed, if he channeled spirit energy to cultivate, the whirlpool would also start to spin and assist him in purifying spirit energy.
Through the breakthrough in his cultivation this time, he had gained a new understanding on artifact forging and the martial way. His mind, which had been wavering all this time, also steadied itself.
Before, he had always been uncertain between the martial way and artifact forging.
There were several times where he wanted to give up on pursuing artifact forging and throw himself completely into growing his martial abilities to breakthrough into higher realms as soon as possible, in hopes that he could enter Dark Asura Hall faster and reunite with Ling Yushi.
He had originally presumed his immersion into artifact forging would affect his cultivation and slow his progression.
Only yesterday, did he finally rest his heart after he had his insight and the inscription of the Spirit Gathering diagram had solved the perplexing problem that he had struggled with for a long time, helping him enter the ninth level of the Refinement Realm.
“For a powerful martial practitioner to become a skilled artificer is a difficult matter, almost impossible.”
“Yet, it is an easy matter for an artificer that has deep knowledge of spirit diagrams to become a powerful martial practitioner. There are almost no thresholds or barriers!”
“Many powerful artificers are the most powerful martial practitioners, high level existences that have a complete understanding of the deeper laws of the martial way!”
Grandpa had once said this to him. He had not paid it any attention before but now held it as the truth!
Due to this, he finally made his decision on whether or not he should continue on with artifact forging.
Yao Tai was his first teacher on this path, the first person that could truly help him learn, so he put his all into studying.
“As of now we have to wait for the spirit materials to become completely melded together. Then, we slowly form the shape of the artifact after setting it in the mold.”
They worked heavily until dusk when Yao Tai finally shouted to stop and dropped down to sit next to the furnace. He wiped his sweat away as he looked with glowing eyes at the furnace and talked.
It had been many hours since Qin Lie had rested. At this time, he was almost on the verge of collapsing. He sat down next to Yao Tai and asked, “What do we do after this?”
Yao Tai turned his head around, and a thread of joy showed on his slightly plump face as he praised, “You are more attentive than all those before you. Just by yourself, you were better than two or three of them combined!”
When he spoke of this, he snorted, “The people before, followed me for a few years but wouldn’t have done as well as you. When I had them retrieve materials for me, they rarely were as accurate as I required which necessitated me to measure amounts myself, wasting my forging time!”
Over the past two decades, there had been seven or eight people that had been Yao Tai’s assistants who helped him retrieve the materials.
Even after a year or two, they would still make mistakes when measuring materials. For example, when getting three ounces of Quicksand Gold, they would have a tiny bit more. To them, this little bit was nothing, but little did they know that this minuscule bit would cause the smelting process to change.
A single change would produce even more changes, creating a butterfly effect which would result in the entire artifact forging process failing.
It was the first time Yao Tai had worked with Qin Lie, and he did not have high expectations before this. He had felt that Qin Lie would be like the previous apprentices and make numerous mistakes in the beginning. Successive mistakes at the busiest times would greatly decrease how quickly he could work and even prompt outright failure.
The result was that Qin Lie’s shocking accuracy, his grasp on spirit materials, and his fast reaction speed all induced Yao Tai to sigh in shock.
Because Qin Lie had completely exceeded his expectations in every category, the preliminary smelting that he had thought would only be completed tomorrow was completed this evening. This greatly surpassed his predictions.
He was very satisfied with Qin Lie and found him easy to work with.
“This boy… is definitely a genius.” Yao Tai narrowed his eyes and examined Qin Lie as he thought.
“What do we do after this?” Qin Lie asked again.
“There is a mold under the furnace. When the substance slowly settles, it will form the preliminary form of the artifact.” Yao Tai had a slight smile as he explained seriously. “After it cools, it will become a rough artifact, and then it is time to polish the artifact to make it look more exquisite. Next is to add jewels and spirit materials to the material to increase the artifact’s power in specific areas, and lastly… is inscribing spirit diagrams for the artifact.”
Qin Lie listened carefully. He felt that he had learned much today. Even though it was extremely busy, he had learned much more today.
Only today did he experience artifact forging first hand and obtained a clear grasp on the process.
When he came to the Artifact Forging Hall on the second day, he saw that the furnace fire had been extinguished long ago.
He went to look and found that there was a groove under the furnace. There were different molds placed in the specialized groove. If one was to forge spirit artifacts like blades or swords, then they would put in molds for blades or swords, an axe mold for an axe type artifact… and so on.
What Yao Tai was forging now was a hammer. That mold was still there, but the rough hammer was in Yao Tai’s hand. He was using sandpaper to grind the uneven surface to smoothen it…
Qin Lie watched silently.
Yao Tai first smoothed out the surface of the hammer and then inlaid three earth-colored crystals at the handle. He said, “This is a Heavenly Cloud Crystal, a Common Grade Six spirit material. This is the finishing touch. It can turn spirit energy into cloud. When used with the spirit diagram, it can cause this hammer to create grey clouds when it is swung and is very suitable for people who cultivate the Great Wave Art.”
Yao Tai introduced each step to Qin Lie as he worked. He only seemed to be finishing up when the sky was turning dark and he had inlaid the three Heavenly Cloud Crystals into the hammer.
“The last step is also the most important step. Naturally, it is inscribing spirit diagrams and actually setting down the artifact’s grade and level!”
Yao Tai’s plump face smiled as he said, “This step is too far away for you and too profound. It is not something you can learn in a short period of time. Mn, starting tomorrow, I need to inscribe spirit diagrams and need it to be quiet, so you do not need to come in for the next five days, you can rest.”
“Okay.” Qin Lie was not chatty and nodded to show his understanding.
From the mouths of Kang Zhi, Han Feng, and the others, he already knew that Yao Tai thought of his spirit diagrams as his life and definitely would not easily pass them to others.
So when it was time to inscribe spirit diagrams for artifacts, he would habitually let his assistants go on holiday and would not allow anyone to enter the Artifact Forging Hall or disturb him.
Qin Lie had been prepared for this, so he openly accepted it and left the hall easily.
Yao Tai was slightly surprised. After Qin Lie left, his brow creased as he muttered, “Strange boy, he didn’t even ask once, and didn’t even show any intention of requesting to stay. Mn, it might just be because he is starting out and can suppress it for now, I wonder if he will remain the same in the future…”
He gazed at the doorway and thoughtfully rubbed his chin as he said, “I hope this one can stay a bit longer. Even if he is more cunning, even if he came for the spirit diagrams, at the very least, this boy is really easy to use.”
Sent on holiday by Yao Tai, Qin Lie suddenly relaxed and had thought about going to Li’s Shop.
When he went to Li’s Shop the next day, it was still as empty as usual, and Li Mu didn’t seem to have returned.
That was fine with him since he had the key. He went to the little room and silently sat down.
Presently, he had reached the ninth level of the Refinement Realm. If he cultivated, the whirlpool inside the spirit sea of his dantian would spin and help him refine spirit energy. When all of the spirit energy in his dantian was refined, he could then start preparing to breakthrough to the Natal Opening Realm.
He had put down the inscribing of the Amplification diagram for a long time. That was the reason why he had come to Li’s Shop, to take his days off as a chance to continue his practice of the Amplification diagram.
“It has been so long since I could finally calm down. I hope that this time is better and that I succeed in the next five days.”
He took out the first spirit tablet and studied the Amplification diagram in his mind before taking a deep breath and putting his finger on the tablet.
The moment his finger landed, he completely became silent and was unable to hear any sound.
It was as though the only things left in this world was him, the spirit tablet in his hand, and the world inside the spirit tablet.